Locus Focus

Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with local, regional and national experts, activists and policy makers about climate change, food policy, land use, salmon restoration, forest management and all the other things that matter in our environment.

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Episode Archive

The Smell of Disaster: West Virginia's Latest Toxic Spill

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The Chemical Spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without drinking water last month

In early January, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, a chemical used to process coal, spilled into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia. It turned out that little was known about the health hazards of the substance that contaminated the water supply for at least 300,000 people. In the wake of this disaster we still do not know the full story about what the longterm impacts will be on the health of the people affected by the spill.  

Tale of Two Pipelines

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/27/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The controversy over proposed pipelines carrying bitumen from the Alberta tar sands across BC.
Every day the tar sands operations in Northeastern Alberta produce 2 million barrels of oil, and within a few years they are projected to double their production.

THE FUTURE IS NOT ALL DOOMED - A Conversation with Carl Safina

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/20/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
Seeking hope on a planet in peril, with Carl Safina
ORIGINALLY BROADCAST ON APRIL 2, 2012

Trees In Paradise, Part Two

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
Connections between the transplanted people and trees that shape California landscapes and cultures
A few species of trees have come to define what was once the nearly treeless landscape of California. Only two of these iconic species are native to California - Coastal Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. The other three - Eucalyptus, Orange and Palms - have, like most of California's residents, come from somewhere else. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk again with Jared Farmer, whose book Trees In Paradise explores the connections between the transplanted people and trees that have shaped the landscapes and cultures of California. Jared's appearance on Locus Focus was truncated by the demands of the pledge drive.

THE PIPELINE THAT NO ONE IS NOTICING

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/06/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
How fracking for natural gas in the United States and Alberta tar sands development is connected

While the fate of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is caught in a fury of politics and headlines, last month the U.S. quietly approved another major border-crossing pipeline proposal. Kinder Morgan's Cochin Pipeline has been operating since 1979 between Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta and Windsor, Ontario, carrying various forms of natural gas.

SNAKE OIL: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future with Richard Heinberg

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/30/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
A conversation with Richard Heinberg about the perils of fracking
REBROADCAST OF PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

The rapid spread of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has temporarily boosted US natural gas and oil production and driven down energy costs. But it's also sparked a massive environmental backlash in communities across the country where the impacts of fracking are being felt.

TAR SANDS OIL COMING TO THE NORTHWEST

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/23/2013 - 10:00am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The impacts of proposed pipelines to ship tar sands oil the Pacific Coast

Every day the the tar sands operations in Northeastern Alberta produce 2 million barrels of oil, and within a few years they are projected to double their production.But for tar sands oil production to remain profitable all this heavy crude oil must make its way to markets that are far removed from these remote landlocked mining operations. The only means to move the oil is by pipelines—most which have not yet been builtand oil trains.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk about two proposed pipeline projects which would carry tar sands-derived heavy crude oil to the Pacific coast.

MEGALOADS MOVING THROUGH OREGON

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/16/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The latest developments on the megaloads moving through the Northwest to the Alberta Tar Sands

For the past few years big oil companies have been developing strategies that would turn pristine river corridors in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies into an industrialized "high and wide corridor" for hauling enormous pieces of equipment to Tar Sands operations in northern Alberta. Their first two efforts were blocked by legal as well as direct action. Last August Nez Perce tribal leaders were arrested for trying to blockade the megaload on Highway 12 in northern Idaho as it entered the Nez Perce Reservation. A court injunction is currently preventing any more megaloads from using this route.

Nature Murals in City of Natural Wonders

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/09/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
How nature murals connect Portlanders with the wealth of nature areas around them
Portland is noted for its abundant urban natural areas and the wildlife that abounds in many spots not far from downtown. But the city is also becoming a center for nature murals that help residents become more aware of the wealth of nature areas around them.

Trees in Paradise: The Dreamscape and Treescape of California

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/02/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
2 native and 3 non-native trees that define the treescape and dreamscape of California
California's treescape is largely a dreamscape defined mostly by non-native trees, which settlers planted to "improve" what they saw as brown barren treeless country. The principal native trees – coastal redwoods and sequoias were valued primarily as timber to build the infrastructure that fueled California's ferocious dreams of growth. As native trees were cut down in a frenzy, Californians thought they could replace the redwoods with fast growing Australian eucalyptus, which along with palms and orange trees, came to represent what's intrinsically Californian. But in time, each of these trees of dreams proved to contain the seeds of nightmares as well.

Comments

Global Warming

Barbara, I hope you might forward my comments to your guest. I was only able to listen to part of today's program but I am very interested. I want to raise my concerns about two prevailing frames that arise on your show and throughout serious discussion of climate change that I believe do great damage to the efforts to raise the awareness of the public and help them understand the urgency needed when addressing this issue.
First is the frame that global warming is happening slowly and will continue to do so. I do not believe the facts support such an assertion and not only does no one know that warming will not suddenly serge forward it seems to be doing exactly that. A report out last week raised the projected temperature for the planet by the end of the century to 9F from 4F degrees. That means that we are going to hit 4F by---2040? Until recently no one imagined the arctic ice cap could melt in anything like our lifetimes but in fact it will and it may do so as soon as 2013! The problem with the frames that give people the impression that GW is a slow process is that it provides fauls comfort, "Oh, technology will fix it before it happens," or "It is not my problem." Neither one is the case but too many people still think that way. So please start using a different frame from "by the end of the century," or “future generations." Instead say "within our life times," and stress the urgency. After all it is much more accurate to say catastrophic climate change is happening right now.

The second frame is that one cannot attribute any given weather event to global warming. That is only partly true. In fact one might say that you cannot not attribute any given weather event to climate change such is the post-industrial influence on the pre-industrial trajectory of the climate---we have departed the Holocene and are in the Antropocene some scientist tell us. It is like a basketball launched toward a basket that gets tipped by one of the players. Its trajectory is for ever changed. I think it is more accurate to say that the weather everywhere and everyday has been influence to some degree by GW. This is important because the frame that one cannot tell if an event is caused by climate change is asking them not to believe there own "eyes," experiences, or impressions which are often very astute. For instance in Oklahoma where I grew up we used to have thunderstorms in April and the 100F days did not come until late July. This year they had wild fires near Oklahoma City in April and the temperatures have been in the hundreds throughout much of this June---that has increasingly become the trend and is consistent with climate change projections. Now Oklahomans should by all rights believe that what they are experiencing is in fact global warming. It may be noted that Inhofe is a Senator from Oklahoma and one of the most radical global warming deniers and obstructionist in government.
I have been keeping up with this issue for a long time now and am alarmed at the rapidity that things are taking place. I truly believe we are probably in for crop failures, water shortages, and mass migrations here in North America, in this country, within our lifetimes and whereas I think there is a fine line to be drawn to not panic or send people into despair I think scientist tend to be much too measured in their statements. It is as though there is smoke billowing out of the projection room and the scientists don’t want be caught dead yelling fire in a crowded theater because there is no "proof" that there is in fact a fire.
Scientist have long dismissed the near term risk of a methane/co2 release from the arctic or the ocean meanwhile there is growing indications that that is exactly what is happening. As a NASA scientist you should know that a huge methane release was detected on Mars a few years ago and that is within a much more static system than ours----that should give us pause!
The public needs to be prepared in case there is a sudden spike in methane from the Arctic so I hope in the future Barbara you will direct your discussions of climate change toward the rapidity of changes already taking place and the potential danger of being too complacent and smug about what we know and what we think we do or do not know. Thank you.

Global Warming

I recently interviewed Phil Mote who has replaced climate change denier George Taylor as Oregon's State Climatologist. Like any careful scientist Mote does not feel comfortable attributing specific weather events to climate change. But he gave me a analogy that I like: It's like playing Russian Roulette and adding a second bullet to the chamber of the revolver. If you blow your head off it doesn't really matter whether it was the original bullet or added bullet that did you in.

Solar Energy

I echo Bruce's concerns and add commentary based on  Mon - 14 - Sep show.

While I support solar energy, I warn against pie-in-the-sky proposals that make it sound like we can find new sources to keep living our wasteful lives. The scale of the problem is lost when we pretend that putting solar panels on 100 roofs signifies real change.

There is some hope to be found in using solar power efficiently. This does NOT include powering electric resistance heaters with photovoltaics. It does mean passive solar heating, solar hot water, and solar clothes driers (AKA clotheslines).

When you have used conservation and innovation to convert the wasteful electric grid into a sustainable system, then we can begin the conversation about supplimenting the system for our transportation problems. Until then, the only real sustainable alternatives to petroleum are wind, human, and animal powered vehicles. Coal and nuclear, the primary sources of new electricity, are polluting uses of nonrenewable resources.

Walk, ride a bicycle, sail (without motor), and use horse and ox cart, if you are truly concerned about the serious threat of climate change. Park your car forever. We cannot afford cars any longer.

- Vernon Huffman

   Corvallis, OR

today's show & "socialism"

i think now is a good time to talk more about what socialism actually is - common ownership of the means of production - and what is is not - redistributing wealth. you are right to continue pointing out that what obama is talking about is a progressive tax structure, not socialism.

the progressive tax idea actually comes from adam smith himself, "It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion." [from book 5, ch.2 on taxes]

Intro Music

The intro music to Locus Focus is a song by Hugh Masakela called "Change." It's on his album "Time," which came out a few years ago. I plan on playing the song each week until Robert Mugabe relinquishes power in Zimbabwe.

brain gender

Did you see the piece in the NY Times re schizophrenia and autism having possible roots in parental dna - that is mother mix:father's mix? That is female characteristics manifesting as schizophrenia from mother dna and autistic characteristics from father's?

 

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